On his Blindness

After nearly two weeks I can now say I’m getting into this holiday. Most of my physical tasks are done, though I’ve yet to complete the tax. Thereafter I can concentrate on writing and have a holiday.

In ten days we’re off to Tasmania, for a few days only, but it should be fun. I am looking for a way into writing a story. It comes in the here and now and winds its way back into the past. I must ring Tania and invite them for dinner. Can you see the way my mind works? Initially it’s all about jobs to do and preoccupations.

I regret that I was born so much earlier than the world of blogs and face book. They still seem unfamiliar to me. I cannot freely enter the world of internet and advanced technologies the way my children do. I feel so awkward. To my credit, I am trying to enter this world but I do feel elderly when I get there. Yet yesterday I saw on Esther Helfgott’s face book that she has made friends with Maya Angelou and Angelou is now eighty years old.

For a minute I thought to invite myself as a friend to Angelou, too-I read her autobiographical series years ago – but then I decided against it. I do not want a long line of superficial ‘friends’ on my face book, I want only the names of ‘real’ people with whom I can interact, even if I never meet them.

Not for me a collection of names, like trophies. Maya Angelou has 5000 friends listed, it should read more like 5000 fans, though of course not all would be fans. some would be fellow writers, family perhaps but most would be hangers on and admirers.

I must get my eyes checked. They seem to be deteriorating and this morning I notice a little insect like spot wavering there in front of my eyes. To lose my eyes would be to lose my life. I could not bear it. I could not write or read, or see people as I see them now. That would be a cruel punishment.

When I consider how my light is spent ere half my days and that one talent which is death to hide lodged in me useless. Doth god exact man’s …light denied, I fondly ask, and patience…I cannot remember anymore of the words. Milton ‘On his Blindness’.

I learned the poem in year ten, when I was fourteen, going on fifteen years old. I remember that I wanted to learn a difficult poem and one that no other girl in my class would choose. I wanted to recite it with panache and wow them with my intellect.

I was in form Four A. Ours was the dumb class, unlike Four Alpha, the class of science nerds and mathematicians. I did not mind too much being in the dumb class, it meant that there was room for me to excel, and not be overshadowed by the other smart kids in the other fourth form. I was also chosen as class captain.

Our teacher, Mother Francesca, a short bespectacled nun, urged us all to write onto a piece of paper our choice of captain and then she would count the tally on the back of the black board out of sight. Finally she announced the class captain and in my memory every term of that year, I was chosen.

In Four Alpha there would have been stiff competition for the position but not in Four A, my position was secure. I was the only goody two shoes, and the smartest one at that. I was the obvious choice.

I cannot remember whether there was any direct competition. The form Four A class room stood at the end of the ambulacum opposite the sacristy door of the chapel. It took up the corner space and looked out on one side over the basketball court, to the front the end of the chapel, in yellow brick, and at the back a sealed wall with a door that led into the vestibule and hall way near to the staff room. The floor was made of shiny Baltic pine. Outside the floor surfaces on the veranda and in the vestibule were of red tiles interlaced with a yellow pattern, terracotta, ornate and shiny with age. There were grooves in the stairs that led from the vestibule up to the second floor and the other class rooms. The grooves were so well worn I imagined the hundreds of students and nuns who had walked on those steps before us. Over a century worth of people before us.

Enough for today. Today I must move onto the tax.

Clean ups, Mummified Cake and Marital Bliss

The skip is full. We have our money’s worth in rubbish removed. I have not so much tidied the house as I have thrown out rubbish and that alone contributes to a sense of order and neatness. Usually I agonise about where to put things, this time given the amount of culling we have done, we now have the odd empty cupboard and more space in which to put the things we have decided to keep. I could be more ruthless still. It is a bit like Jill B described at a recent conferences. We fill our cellars up and the more we buy the more items that are less likely to be used get shoved towards the back until they all but disappear into the darkness. These are the foodstuffs that shift beyond their use by dates without us even noticing until a big clean out years later when we discover we have jars of fig and ginger jam going back to the mid eighties or bottles of some arcane brand of Japanese soy that we needed for a special recipe and used only, once dating back to 1990.

I still have the top tier of our wedding cake and that dates back to 1977 but I keep it on purpose. Tradition dictates that the left over wedding cake should be sealed and kept until either the christening of the first child, christening or birth, or perhaps it should be opened on the first wedding anniversary. In any case, we did neither and now I cannot bear to open it. I cannot imagine what it would look like, some sort of mummified cake. Were we to open it, heaven knows, it might be like opening up Pandora’s box. It might cause untold damage to our marital bliss, if bliss you can call it. We have been married for 31 years. I do not want to interfere with this.

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